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Jean C. Baker quoted in article “Supreme Court Decision to Affect Breast Cancer Testing”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

At the heart of the Supreme Court case, Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics, is the question of whether a gene is still a natural product when isolated from its natural environment and placed in a new one.

Scientists and physicians challenging Myriad Genetics' patents on the genes, BRCA 1 and 2, argue that the company did not invent anything to warrant a patent; it merely uncovered information about human genes that are natural products, isolated or not. Myriad Genetics argues that the genes are no longer natural products because they have been isolated through human ingenuity, and the decision itself to isolate the genes is an invention.

And that's how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has interpreted the law for years, said Jean Baker, a patent attorney with experience in biotechnology patents.

"It's kind of a philosophical construct, but it's one that has held true," Baker said.

Originally published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 12, 2013